Building Business Resilience to Face Any Challenge

IT experts from ServiceNow and Nutanix explain how finding the right organizational structure, business applications and technology infrastructure helps companies handle difficult times.

By Calvin Hennick

By Calvin Hennick June 16, 2020

Even before 2020, business and IT leaders talked a lot about the need to create resilience in their systems and workflows, in order to be ready to meet unanticipated challenges head-on. Then, in March, most companies saw their environments put to an unprecedented test, as the COVID-19 crisis forced much of the business world to shift to a remote work environment rapidly.

Some companies fared better than others. The results often came down to the combined effects of the organizational structures, applications, and infrastructure that businesses had adopted before the crisis hit.

“IT is the broker of services to its constituents,” Rahul Tripathi, Chief Technology Officer of Customer Success and VP/GM Worldwide Professional Services for Nutanix, said in a recent webinar on the topic of resilience. To make IT resilient to challenges, Tripathi said to focus on the interplay of three areas: an organization that can adapt quickly, applications that can adjust to changing needs, and IT infrastructure that is reliable and scalable.

“If you have any one of them broken, you simply can't get IT resilience.”

During the webinar, Tripathi and Jeff Hausman, general manager for IT operations management at ServiceNow, discussed how businesses can optimize each of these three areas to run a stronger business.

Organizational Structure

A common inhibitor of resilience, Hausman noted during the webinar, is a lack of communication and collaboration between different stakeholders that need to come together during a crisis. Silos of information and knowledge make it difficult for these stakeholders to cooperate. This became more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have organizations right now that have physical locations in addition to online services, and many of those physical locations are not actually available,” Hausman said. “And so organizations are very much having to focus on the online services side of things.”

Bringing together information from different parts of the company can help, said Hausman. He explained how ServiceNow offers what he describes as a “platform of platforms” meant to provide a unified view of a company’s IT services environment.

“We have a single data model, a single platform, that allows you to build flexible workflows that bring all the disparate information together to operate and run those services, whether those are banking services or streaming services, or customer service support,” he said.

Applications

Startup companies have something of an advantage when it comes to resilience, Tripathi noted, because often they rely more heavily on cloud applications. By contrast, more established companies typically have a complex mix of cloud and on-premise applications, which can present problems during a crisis.

“In a traditional organization, you have DevOps-based teams, cloud-based teams, some modern teams, but you’re also carrying the burden of legacy applications,” he said. Even as traditional IT organizations start using microservices, container-based applications and more SaaS applications, they’ll need to shift in other areas and think differently.

“For workers at many companies, all their applications and data were in the office, on their desktop where they had their applications running, and now they can’t access that,” Tripathi said, referring to the COVID-19 lockdown that forced offices to close and employees to work from home. “You need to have applications that can adjust.”

Infrastructure

Many organizations, Tripathi said, overlook the importance of infrastructure in ensuring the resilience of their applications.

“By simplifying your infrastructure, you can make your IT more resilient,” he said. “The reason the applications and organizations get into trouble is because of siloed infrastructure. Things are being managed by different people and running on different platforms.”

Tripathi noted that Nutanix offers a software-defined, hyperconverged, multi-cloud infrastructure platform. This level of flexibility, he said, is required to make infrastructure more adaptable to the changing needs of end users and applications during changing and tumultuous times.

“Irrespective of whether you’re running a remote office or private cloud, or running it in a public cloud, the infrastructure has a single management plane,” Tripathi, describing how Nutanix software helps unify visibility and control of infrastructure. 

“It’s all about making the infrastructure invisible,” he said, so IT managers can focus on delivering applications and data.

In addition to centralized management, Tripathi said, automation is a key feature that leads to improved resilience in infrastructure.

“You can put the applications in the right place, and in uncertain times like right now, you put more applications in the cloud, you scale out your environment,” he said. “We have examples of customers who have been able to scale 10x in just a few days with automation.”

Better Together

While ServiceNow and Nutanix both individually offer products designed to make organizations more robust, Tripathi and Hausman stressed that a combination of the two can yield even greater benefits. For example, Hausman said if something is happening in a Nutanix environment it can be brought into ServiceNow so IT professionals can more seamlessly respond to alerts and drive automated decision-making.

“Ultimately,” Hausman said, “if I’m able to pull in that information and I’m able to use it to make those automated decisions, I’m going to be able to drive a better outcome.” He said that can quickly resolve and reduce problems efficiently, allowing the company and IT managers the ability to get more done under different constraints that may arise.

“Resilience means, how can you really understand your workflows and change those workflows very quickly for the need, and we execute that,” Tripathi said. “We have the execution path, and then ServiceNow is the workflow path. The two together give you the ability to move very, very quickly. It’s all about coming together as two companies to solve our customer’s big problems.”

The webinar finished with a Q&A session, which covered the benefit of the ServiceNow and Nutanix partnership. Hausman explained that ServiceNow’s service-oriented approach works across different applications and infrastructure, but the integration with Nutanix engineering and continuous input from customers helps customers quickly bring intelligent automation into their operations. He said much of the private, public and hybrid cloud innovation happens in real time, which requires tight collaboration between customers and vendors.

Editor’s note: Listen to the business resilience webinar on demand.

Calvin Hennick is a contributing writer. His work appears in BizTech, Engineering Inc., The Boston Globe Magazine and elsewhere. He is also the author of Once More to the Rodeo: A Memoir. Follow him on Twitter @CalvinHennick.

© 2020 Nutanix, Inc. All rights reserved.  For additional legal information, please go here.

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